Foster teen overcomes trials, graduates from local school

According to the most recent research, across the nation only 54 percent of children in the foster care system will graduate from high school.

Research conducted by the School of Social Work at the University of Washington illustrated that less than 11 percent of teenagers in the foster care system, will go on to college and Casey Family Programs research says that only 2.5 percent will graduate from a four year college.

But a soon to be graduate of Grunder Center High School Keyontay Guzzle, is breaking the norms of stereotypical foster care teenagers.

Guzzle went living five years in a house full of his cousins and was taken care of by his grandma, only seeing his biological mom off and on in his early childhood. After moving in full time with his mother, the nightmares soon began.

“She was in an abusive relationship, in and out, with men, and it just wasn’t a good environment for me to be in,” Guzzle said.

Soon after living with his mother for a short time, he was taken away at 13 years old and put into the foster care system. Guzzle was placed into the home he now lives in today but had issues at the start of his foster care journey.

“I went to another foster home after leaving the first one, but that home didn’t work out, and then I was admitted into treatment.”

After being released from treatment and working out his emotional and physical struggles that cling with Guzzle’s story, he found his way back to the first home he was placed in when he was 13 years old. Ever since, Guzzle has been progressing in school, sports and extracurricular activities.

“I’m involved in music, football, basketball and baseball. Yeah, I do it all,” he said.

Due to a torn ACL, Guzzle will not be taking any offers to play football around the state of Iowa but will attend Hawkeye Community College in the fall to get his general education classes done, study digital mass media and to be involved in the social services program as well.

“With graduation coming up, I am most excited to probably find out who I want to be and with what I want to do in college, what I want to do in life. I’m looking forward towards music stuff and getting deeper into that.”

Being an ambitious teenager, one of Guzzle’s many dreams is to pursue music, not only to produce it but also make it. With being in choir, singing throughout local concerts or just around the house, he is determined to go on the X-factor and prove himself with his voice. Somehow, in some way, Guzzle won’t let any more obstacles stand in his way.

He said one of the hardest parts of getting to graduation and looking toward a future is staying focused and driven.

“One of the main struggles is staying on yourself and what you want to achieve. Being focused and driven can get you over those bumps and toward something better.”

Although low funding, lack of support and many other struggles come along to those kids who “age out” of foster care and are able to move onto college, Guzzle is one of many who don’t listen to those doubts being spit into the world about foster care children.

“I want to prove to people you can succeed in life even though you grew up in an environment that wasn’t the best.”

Today, foster kids are overlooked and their funding is very limited when they graduate high school and decide to continue their education throughout college. One way the Cedar Valley is striving to help Guzzle and many kids like him is making and receiving donations, celebrating their accomplishments and throwing an open house graduation party.

The open house was this Thursday, May 25 at the Hawkeye Community College. Eighth grader at Holmes and founder of Furries For Fosters, Aaliyah Tournier is still taking donations for the kids graduation high school.

“I just want people to know if you come from a background that, you know, wasn’t the best, you can always make a change and not look at the negatives of the situation but focus on the positives instead,” Guzzle said.

Though, there may not be any news updates, articles and opinions due to lack of information about this topic, foster kids graduating high school is a serious and continuing issue that needs more support each and every day.

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